fisher sets pace at Open

South African journeyman Trevor Fisher junior fired an eight-under-par 63 to top the leader board midway through the first round of the Joburg Open yesterday.

South African journeyman Trevor Fisher junior fired an eight-under-par 63 to top the leader board midway through the first round of the Joburg Open yesterday.

Fisher, playing his 100th Sunshine Tour tournament but with just three victories in minor events to his name, led Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey by one stroke and Spain's Alfredo Garcia-Heredia by two after his round on the easier West Course.

Hoey played on the tougher East Course at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club and straight away began dominating the 6940m layout with a birdie at the par-four first hole.

He collected three more birdies on the fourth, sixth and eighth holes to go out in 32 strokes and a birdie at the testing par-five 18th hole capped a top-class round.

The 29-year-old's only bogey came on the par-four 17th when he missed the fairway off the tee.

"It was probably the only poor swing of the day on 17, when I hit a rescue a little right in the trees, and then had it plugged in the bunker," Hoey told reporters.

Fisher also dropped just one stroke and collected six birdies on the front nine and three on the back, impressing with some wonderful approach shots.

"I'm very happy. The wedge worked well for me today. On the West Course, if your wedges are good, you can put it really near to the hole," Fisher said.

The highlight of Garcia-Heredia's round, also on the West Course, was an eagle-three on the 15th hole when he hit a marvellous three-iron on to the green in two.

"I hit the drive a little to the right and had a good lie, and then had to use a high fade with a three-iron, which I did perfectly and sank a 14-foot putt," the winner of the last available European Tour card said.

Defending champion and world number 43 Richard Sterne, the highest ranked player in the field, was eight strokes behind the leader, level par after 14 holes, while fellow South African Retief Goosen was two-under-par through 15 holes. - Reuters

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